On this episode of Contract Heroes, we had the opportunity to sit down with two very important names in the contract management sector, Sally Guyer and Paul Branch. Both Sally and Paul are members of the World Commerce & Contracting Organization (WorldCC), an association that aims to provide a home and a common body of knowledge for those of us working in the rapidly advancing world of contract management. WorldCC showcases an extremely diverse community, with over 70,000 members spanning from 180 different countries.
Sally, the CEO of WorldCC, ran her own small consultancy supporting small to medium enterprise before joining in 2014. Paul, the chief networking officer of WorldCC, has over 30 years of experience in automating commercial and contracting processes. He has spent the last 8 to 9 years working on implementation of AI, particularly with natural language processing and machine learning.
Since Sally and Paul each have their own unique expertise when it comes to contract lifecycle management (CLM) and legal-tech, we decided to divide our interview between them, with Sally expressing important ideas about contact design simplification and Paul providing essential insight into the actual implementation of technology after simplification.
Contract Design Simplification
Sally kicked us off by explaining why it’s extremely important to make sure your contracts are the best they can be. Contracts are pervasive. They represent trading relationships which make up the very foundation of human society.
However, despite contracts being the lifeblood of modern economies, research has shown that almost 90% of people working in commerce find contracts difficult or impossible to understand. For the past 10 years, WorldCC has been challenging the idea that contracts are just legal documents that require unnecessarily complex language.
Rather than being created solely for the purpose of anticipating litigation, contracts need to be designed for the users with more attention placed on the audience and their understanding of the language.
According to Sally, there are still a number of barriers in place that are somewhat hindering the progress of contract simplification. These barriers are driven by both fear of the unknown and comfort in what is considered traditional.
Legal teams have been trained to use contracts to create certainty and somehow anticipate every possible outcome, with some lawyers believing simplification is wrong and questioning the legality of it. But comic contracts like the ones put in place by ClemenGold have been shown to facilitate better relationships for workers by generating accessibility and transparency in ways that complexly crafted contracts do not.
To wrap up our conversation with Sally, we wanted to know what some of the impacts of successful simplification initiatives are. One of the most important of these impacts is showcasing that your company is committed to making the trading experience easy.
Difficult to understand contracts actually result in business risk because clients and commerce associates alike may not understand exactly what the contract says. Simplifying contracts helps to eliminate that risk. In fact, simple, well-crafted contracts provide organizations with a competitive edge. They’re business enabling tools that allow for more successful and collaborative business outcomes.
Incremental Technology Implementation
We always like to ask our guests where they think is the best place to start when it comes to automating contract processes, and Paul’s years of experience provided some excellent guidance. You need to assess your processes closely and figure out which stages of the process would benefit from automation and which would not.
Machines cannot negotiate relationships or perform innovative thinking, so the steps in your process that require such intricacy and detail should be left for employees. Once you determine which steps can benefit from automation, approach the implementation of software as a culture change in the organization, engaging stakeholders and properly training employees to ensure that everyone is equally involved and prepared for the changes.
For those who feel they have found this foothold and are now ready to start implementing software, we asked Paul where they can begin their search, since the sheer amount of CLM tools available at the moment can be quite overwhelming.
Paul suggests using software comparison tools like the one designed by WorldCC (accessible on their website) to generate a series of venders that will meet your unique business requirements. Determining your business requirements is key, as the huge variety of CLM tools available is ready to meet your needs as long as you can locate the right one to fit your business. Some important criteria to keep in mind are things like the agility of the tools, changing workflow in your organization, and the user experience.
For more exclusive chats with expert guests and valuable legal-tech advice, check out past installments of Contract Heroes and be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss an episode! If you have any questions for our guests, Sally Guyer and Paul Branch, you can find them by contacting WorldCC via their website, which can be found here. There will most definitely be a member in your region who can help you find the information you need.